Most people remember their favorite childhood toys, like the specific teddy bear or action figure that they reached for during play time, but me? Not particularly. So, let’s see how this goes.

One of my favorite things to do when I was little was run out into the back yard and swing. My dad made me two swings, hanging from two different trees. Now, only one is still standing, and not for too much longer, I don’t think. One was a tire swing, and I remember going so high and fast on that one, spinning around and around and around. The other was a more traditional swing, and that one is in a tree in front of the big old apple tree. I loved watching the blossoms in the spring when I would swing back and forth, and back and forth. While not exactly toys, those swings were a big part of my childhood.

Another big part of my childhood was a costume that I wore nigh continuously from when I received it at the age of 3 to when I outgrew it in third grade. I don’t actually remember asking, but my parents and sister remember when I was three saying, over and over again, that the only thing I wanted for Christmas was a lion suit. (What can I say? I loved The Lion King then and still do!)

My poor mother! She was determined to give me a lion suit for Christmas, especially since that was the only thing I said I wanted, but could she find one in stores? Nope. She apparently looked for a couple months before giving up and deciding to make one for me herself. Every night after I went to bed she would get out the sewing machine and work on my lion suit. She made it elastic and extra big so that I could keep wearing it for a few years.

My family has many, many pictures of me growing up in that lion suit. Heck, I’d still be wearing it if I could fit in it. We still have the suit somewhere, as neither I nor my mother could bear to give it up.

I think a good final toy, or group of toys, that I should mention are my stuffed animals. I always loved stuffed animals, and would have a pile of them sleep in my bed every night. I would rotate a bunch of them out, though, so that I wouldn’t have lonely stuffed animals. They ranged from horses, cats, a unicorn, a wolf, and I even had a giant puppet sea monster whose tail had a habit of curling around my legs at night. I remember playing with my stuffed animals in bed until I fell asleep, and how, sometimes, that was my favorite part of the day.

I guess I always had an active imagination, the kind that would turn a swing into a flying dragon, a lion suit into the markings of the pride leader, and stuffed animals into an ongoing drama about the political relations between the feline and equine clans. And you know what? That’s probably the best toy I could ever ask for.

-Wilber

 

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